Suicidal ideation

The term ‘suicidal ideation’ refers to thoughts that life isn’t worth living, ranging in intensity from fleeting thoughts through to concrete, well thought-out plans for killing oneself, or a complete preoccupation with self-destruction. These thoughts are not uncommon among young people. It is estimated that approximately 30% of adolescents aged 12-20 have thought about suicide at some point in their lives, with around 20% reporting having had such thoughts in the previous year.

The majority of young people who experience suicidal ideation will not go on to take their lives, however any report of suicidal ideation should be taken seriously. Even when it is mild, and is only reported on one occasion, suicidal ideation has been found to be associated with clinically significant symptoms of depression. Furthermore, young people experiencing persistent, severe suicidal ideation are at increased risk of attempting suicide.

This resource dispels common myths surrounding suicidal ideation and summarises the latest evidence.